Why vaccines are vital to you

June 2020

We know that vaccines are vital. They save millions of lives every year, and are one of the safest and most effective health interventions around. That’s why we were proud to launch our Vaccines Are Vital campaign this month (June 2020), raising urgent awareness of the importance of vaccines.

Luckily for us, the vast majority of people all over the world agree that vaccines are vital. We asked on Facebook if our supporters would be willing to explain why they are proud to vaccinate. This is what they said:

“They save lives and futures. My future changed 10 years ago. My life got flipped on its head. No one should ever have to go through this when there is a vaccine out there. Cost of vaccine shouldn’t be thought about considering the amount I and many others have cost the NHS and other U.K. services and will keep costing for years to come.” – Lesley

Lesley survived meningitis in May 2010. As an adult, she believed that meningitis was something that could never happen to her – until it did. Unfortunately, meningitis can affect anyone, of any age, at any time. It’s yet another reason why vaccines are vital.

“Without vaccines so many more lives would be lost. My son survived meningitis and I am so grateful for that, he is an absolute diamond.” – Melanie

If you have ever had to watch a loved one go through meningitis, you’ll have no doubt that vaccines are vital. When that loved one survives the relief is enormous, but we know that life after meningitis rarely goes back to normal. Around a third of survivors will be affected by some form of life changing after effect. Fortunately, most people who contract bacterial meningitis do go on to make a full recovery in time.

Amputation is one possible after effect of bacterial meningitis.

"Vaccines are vital because they save lives. My mum lost my sister over 40 years ago to meningococcal septicaemia and we also almost lost our daughter to the same thing at 18mths old thankfully she’s now almost 14 and things have come a long way and we are so lucky to have the vaccines we do." - Justine

Some people are hesitant about vaccines, which may be in part due to the success of vaccines themselves. As Justine’s very sad story shows, great progress has been made in the world of vaccines, and vaccines are now widely available today which protect against some of the deadliest diseases on earth. This can mean that, because we don’t see diseases like meningitis very often in the UK, we become complacent about actually getting those vaccines. Justine’s words remind us that meningitis was a deadly killer long before vaccines, and remains so if we don’t continue to take up the vaccines which can protect against it.

"Vaccines save lives. If we had only known about the vaccines our son would probably have been alive today. Instead we are looking at the one year anniversary of his death." – Christine

Christine’s son, Mathias, was just 17 years old when he contracted meningitis. Mathias did not survive. The type of meningitis that ended Mathias’ life far too soon was MenW meningitis – which can be prevented by the MenACWY vaccine. If Christine and her family had known about the existence of the vaccine, Mathias would likely still be alive today.

Christine’s story proves that vaccines are vital. It also reiterates the equally vital importance of raising awareness – both of meningitis itself, and the vaccines that can help keep it at bay. Teenagers and young adults of Mathias’ age are the second highest at-risk age group for contracting bacterial meningitis, and your donations are urgently needed to help us raise awareness among this age group.
We know that vaccines are vital, and we know that you know it too. With your continued support, we will be able to continue fighting for a world where nobody dies due to a vaccine-preventable illness.

Thank you to Lesley, Melanie, Justine, Christine, and all the other individuals who bravely tell their stories to raise awareness. Together, we will defeat meningitis.
Meningitis and septicaemia are serious, life threatening illnesses
Since the charity was founded in 1989, we have awarded 161 research grants. The total value of our investment in vital scientific research is over £19.1 million (€24.7 million).
You don’t need to face meningitis and sepsis alone
A global vision for meningitis by 2030 and an action plan to get there.

About the author

Holly Edwards
Senior Communications Officer

Hi, I'm Holly, and I joined MRF in 2017.

I'm always looking for stories that will help more people understand meningitis and the devastating impact it can have. Working with people who have been affected by meningitis is a great privilege, and I feel very lucky to do what I do.

Tel: 0333 405 6255